Library unveils five-year plan

By Sky Barsch
Observer correspondent

The Dorothy Alling Memorial Library in Williston has developed a five-year plan, aiming to make the library a current, cultural community center with opportunities for lifelong learning.

The plan, written by a 14-member community board and staff, used survey feedback to guide the library for the next five fiscal years.

“We tried to focus on what were the needs, and how the library addressed those needs,” said library Director Marti Fiske.

The library collected surveys in May and June this year, with copies of the survey available at the library and on the library’s Web site. The library also sent surveys to patrons by e-mail. After much input, four service areas were identified for focus.

In the area of “current topics and titles,” the library wants to “help … fulfill the community’s ‘appetite for information about popular culture and social trends’ and its desire for recreational experiences,” according to the plan. The library will aim to stay current and alert patrons to these resources.

In the area of “cultural awareness,” the library will, through a variety of resources, help patrons understand their own cultural heritage and the cultural heritage of others.

The third service area is called “commons.” People enjoy having the library as a gathering place and a place to have public discourse about community issues.

Lastly, under “lifelong learning,” the library will assist patrons to continue to learn by helping them find materials within and out of the library.

What came out of the survey and study did not surprise Fiske, who said the community has an open relationship with the library.

“A lot of it we had heard before, as far as how we were doing. There are particular programs that are extremely popular, especially the children’s program,” Fiske said. “We didn’t hear anything we did not expect to hear. We have a very good relationship with our patronage.”

Plans are typically written every four years so they can be implemented on the fifth. Fiske said that the newly released plan is a few years late, because she wanted some time to get to know the community after she took on the role as director. The last plan was adopted in 2000 and expired in July 2005. Fiske began her tenure toward the end of 2005, and work began on the new plan in April of this year.

The Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, which receives most of its $386,000 budget from Williston taxpayers, targeted Williston residents as the primary population for the focus of the plan.

Fiske said it will not take a considerable increase in funding or resources to implement the four goals.

“Most of the goals aren’t going to take much for funding. They’re things that we’re doing very well for the library. A lot of the changes have no expense or are very inexpensive. We should be able to handle them by our regular budget or with the help of the friends group,” Fiske said, referring to the Friends of the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, a fundraising and support group

Fiske said the library will measure success with a list of objective measurements, including improving numbers for circulation, doing more surveys to ensure the community’s needs are being met and to getting assessments from community members.

The final draft of the plan is now available for public comment. Copies are online at, or available in-house at the library’s main desk. The Trustees plan to vote on the adoption of this plan at their Jan. 14 meeting. The public is asked to submit their comments to Fiske in writing by Jan. 7.Comments may be sent to or 21 Library Lane, Williston.